Jeramey Jannene

Lena Taylor Ends Lt. Governor Campaign

State senator ran for mayor in 2020. Will she run in upcoming special election?

By - Dec 24th, 2021 10:01 am
Lena Taylor delivers the Real State of the City. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Lena Taylor delivers the Real State of the City in 2020. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

State Senator Lena Taylor is stopping her campaign for Lieutenant Governor.

Taylor, a Milwaukee Democrat, announced the decision Thursday evening.

“During the last several months, I have spent a great deal of time addressing the issue of redistricting,” said Taylor in a statement. While working to ensure fair legislative maps and to maintain and improve existing representation for communities of color, I have questioned the best use of my legislative experience and skills.”

She has been involved with the redistricting process at both the city and county level as an advocate. In her formal role as senator, she voted against a plan from her fellow Democrats saying it didn’t do enough for minority communities.

Once expected to run for mayor for a second time, Taylor announced her statewide campaign on Oct. 4. She was the first to declare, but representatives David Bowen and Sara Rodriguez soon joined her.

Now she’s leaving the race to them.

Incumbent Mandela Barnes is running for U.S. Senate instead of reelection alongside Governor Tony Evers. The winner of the Democratic lieutenant governor contest will be paired with Evers in a race against the Republican ticket.

“The office of Lt. Governor offers a wide platform to raise awareness about many issues.  However, as a hands-on, boots-on-the-ground legislator, I want to be positioned to have a direct impact on the concerns of constituents,” said Taylor. “As I contemplate my options, I want to thank those who have supported my campaign for Lt. Governor.”

Is she running for mayor?

Taylor said she was considering a run when she visited City Hall on Aug. 25, the day Mayor Tom Barrett was announced as the nominee for Ambassador to Luxembourg. Barrett was confirmed last week and resigned Wednesday evening, clearing the way for a mayoral race to formally begin. A primary will occur Feb. 15 with a general election April 5. The lieutenant governor race, meanwhile, won’t appear on the ballot until August and November.

The senator challenged Barrett in 2020, losing 63-37 in a race that ended amidst the early COVID-19 pandemic and state’s Safer at Home order.

She did not respond to a request for comment on a potential second run on Friday morning. Signatures are due Jan 11.

Taylor has served as state senator since 2005. The 55-year-old won a special election to serve in the Wisconsin State Assembly in 2003 and an open election for 4th Senate District in 2004, succeeding Gwen Moore. She was most recently re-elected in November 2020.

Taylor is a licensed attorney, having earned a law degree from Southern Illinois University. She is a graduate of Milwaukee Public Schools‘ Rufus King High School and earned her undergraduate degree from UW-Milwaukee. Taylor previously worked as a public defender.

In announcing her 2020 mayoral run, Taylor said her biggest accomplishment at the state level was her work on justice reinvestment and criminal justice reform. She also championed her work on urban agriculture, specifically hemp legalization.

Taylor has occasionally engendered controversy in recent years. She was removed in 2018 from the Joint Committee on Finance, a powerful state budget committee, by Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse). The move came after an investigation determined she bullied members of her staff and took retaliatory action against one.

Just weeks before that Taylor had an altercation at a Wells Fargo bank branch where she called a teller, who like Taylor is Black, a “house (N-word).” She was issued a citation for the matter.

In 2019, when launching her mayoral campaign, she insisted there were two sides to the story, but said: “that’s the past.” She said Shilling was wrong for taking her off the committee,

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Categories: Politics

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